8 Product Manager Interview Tips to Help You Land the Offer
Here’s a hard truth: collecting a list of Product Manager interview questions is not enough to get you ready for your next Product Manager interview. Will knowing what to expect from your interview help? Yes, of course. But unless you pair that knowledge with some strategic interview prep and tactics to frame how you show up in the PM interview, you’re not going to be setting yourself ahead of the pack. Here are 13 actionable Product Manager interview tips to level up your interview prep and make sure you stand out.
1. How Do You Introduce Yourself in a Product Manager Interview?
Keep these tips in mind when introducing yourself in a Product Manager interview:
- Highlight your experience as a Product Manager
- Incorporate industry-relevant keywords to exemplify your skills
- Keep it tight: Your pitch should be delivered in roughly 30 seconds
- Frame the narrative. Use the Flashback or Rising Action templates to tell a story.
- Write your pitch down and rehearse it until you’ve memorized it
Your 30-second elevator pitch will set the tone for the rest of the interview. The best advice we can give you for your Product Manager interview is to perfect your personal pitch.
At Product Gym, we teach our members how to pitch themselves according to the most essential traits and skills that recruiters are looking for in a Product Manager.
Our interviews with Product Leads have allowed us to distill the most important aspects to highlight in your job application process, so you are ready to “tell us about yourself” when asked.
2. What Should a Product Manager Ask in an Interview?
Here’s a pro tip for your next Product Manager interview: don’t wait for them to ask “so, do you have any questions for me?” to start asking them questions.
The Product Manager role is a leadership position. You’re going to start the job anticipating and solving problems that other stakeholders do not know how to tackle. Consider your interview in the same way: take charge, and find out the information you need to show the company you are the problem-solver and leader that they want on their team.
Here are the 5 most important questions you should ask in your Product Manager interview:
- What was it about my background that prompted you to schedule this call?
- Is this a brand new position, or has someone recently left?
- In an ideal world, what does a successful working relationship look like for your next Product Manager hire?
- What is it about your job that you hate the most?
- 90 days from now, where do you envision the company/product being, and what’s stopping us from getting there?
These questions will help you understand what value you can bring to the company, know whether you want to work there, and build an emotional connection with your interviewer.
Practically speaking, the answers to these questions you ask in your Product Manager interview will be your guide to how you frame your answers. Put this Product Manager interview tip into action by forming your interview answers around what the company has told you they need.
3. Product Manager Interview Tip: Make It A Conversation
Your interview should not be an interrogation, it should be a dialogue. You’re there to learn about the team and the company just as they are looking to learn about you. So ask questions, get to know the person you’re talking to on a personal (yet professional) level, and let the conversation flow.
Our best tip for making your Product Manager interview into a memorable conversation is to use this tested framework for your answers:
- The Set-Up: Give yourself room to manoeuvre by setting up your answer with a forgiveness statement. This might be “The first thing that comes to mind is… “ or, “That really depends…” What you’re doing is leaving space for the conversation to be flexible. You don’t want to box yourself in with a rigid answer, because you might find out that it wasn’t what the interviewer was looking for.
- The Answer: Once you’ve set yourself up with a forgiveness statement, you’re free to lay out your answer. This might be you sharing your definition of Agile, or telling the interviewer what your biggest weakness is.
- The Example: Your example is an opportunity to build rapport with the interviewer. You’re telling them a quick story, looping them into your experience, and showcasing that you’ve thought through the answer you’re giving.
- The Follow up: This is the step that takes your interview from an interrogation to a conversation. Turn the question back onto your interviewer so that you can learn more about them as an individual as well as about the company. For example, if you’ve just explained how you approach developing user personas, you might follow up by asking: “What kind of CRM do you guys use here?”
However, it can often be difficult to strike up a conversation in a topic that you are not entirely familiar with. Therefore, at Product Gym, we teach you all the product management terminology, jargon, fundamentals, and essentials that will prepare you for any conversation topic that comes your way.
4. Strategize Your Mock Interviews
Mock interviews are great — if you’re going about them the right way. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your mock interviews by avoiding the following:
Using mock interviews as a crutch instead of diving into actual interviews
Practicing in the safety of a mock interview is all well and good. It gives you an opportunity to research, get familiar with common questions, and build the foundation of your answers. But the flip side of practicing in safety is that is doesn’t fully prepare you for the stress, the curve balls, and the social element of Product Manager interviews.
Don’t rely solely on mock interviews. Use them as a complementary tool to all the practice you’re getting in real interviews.
Winging your answers (or the entire mock interview)
Some common mistakes people make while conducting mock interviews are falling back on what questions they feel like answering, randomly deciding what kind of interview they’ll be practicing, and relying on the situation to dictate how the mock interview is run. In other words, they’re winging it.
To really build up your confidence, perfect your answers, and be prepared, your mock interview game needs to have a structure and a plan.
Focusing on the questions you’re most confident about
We get it. Focusing on the areas that trip you up or the answers that make you cringe is hard on your self-esteem. But, the point of practice is to improve. The best way to make use of your time mock interviewing is to pinpoint where you have the most room for improvement.
Mock interviewing with your roommate/partner/best friend as your interview buddy
Practicing with your closest friend might be comfortable and easy for you. But, if you’re noticing the trend with how we’re laying out these Product Manager interview tips, you can probably guess that’s exactly why we don’t recommend it.
A great partner for mock interviewing will share your ambitions and urgency, provide constructive criticism, and most importantly, consider your answers with an objective eye.
Avoiding reworking or reiterating your interview answers
Again, you’re here to improve. That’s going to take some work, and you’ll need to be open to changing up your answers, and reworking them as needed. Do they tell a story? Could your examples be stronger? Are they engaging? Just like a company can always do more to know their customers and improve their product, your interview answers can always be polished.
At Product Gym, we teach you exactly how to nail your interview, no matter the curveballs that get thrown your way. In fact, this stage of the process is so important that we cannot emphasize it more. Due to the fact that we are so big on community, our members regularly schedule meetings with one another to practice their interview answers in role-plays. This helps them hone their skills and prepares them for more types of interviewers than they would have previously had access to.
5. Record Your PM Interview Answers and Listen Back
You’re often going to be your own worst critic. So, when you’re looking for ways to improve your answers to essential PM interview questions (like, “What is your favorite product?” or “What’s your greatest strength?”), listen back on them. Here’s the PM interview tip in essence: Record your mock interview sessions and listen back on the answers you gave. You’ll be amazed to learn how often you say “um” or “like”. You’ll catch the points where you stumble and note the areas where your story sounds stiff. Basically, listening back on your interview answers is going to show you where your pain points are so that you can solve them.
6. Get Interview Tips From Other Product Managers
There are countless books, blogs, and other resources out there. The best person to learn from is someone who’s been exactly where you are now. You’ll find a plethora of Product Manager interview tips in the “ Interview With a Product Manager” playlist on Product Gym’s YouTube channel. For now, here’s a collection of tips from Expedia Group Senior Product Manager, Mickey Noworyta:
7. Keep Up Your Momentum
We’ve touched on the importance of not relying too much on mock interviews. A better way to hone your Product Manager interview skills is to go on a lot of interviews. At Product Gym, it’s fairly standard for our members to go on 5–10+ interviews per week. Of course, to accomplish this, they send out a large volume of applications.
We strongly believe momentum is the number one way to ace the Product Manager interview process. This is because, just like any other product management ability, interviewing is a skill you need to develop through practice. Even if you’re interviewing with a company that isn’t your first choice, or isn’t in an industry you’re passionate about, you’re going to learn something from each and every interview experience.
You’ll get to practice your answers and see how they’re received in reality, and polish them until they’re perfect. You’ll experience responding to unexpected questions and adjusting how to deliver value on the fly. All of this is going to make sure that when you interview with your dream company, you’re a master interviewer.
What’s more, the momentum you’ll build with consistent interviews is the best way to banish a lack of confidence. If you’re nervous about public speaking or have a case of imposter syndrome affecting your job hunt, a steady rhythm of interviews will help you face those problems head-on and work through them.
8. Technical Product Manager Interview Tip: Practice Solving Case Studies
Our final Product Manager interview tip packs a punch. Stop building side projects, and start honing your PM skills by solving case studies.
You know by now that you are going to have to ace a technical Product Manager interview round before landing the offer. You can practice behavioral and competency-based interview questions in mock interviews, so why not apply the same idea to technical questions and take-home assignments?
Like the STAR method or the tactic for creating interview dialogue mentioned above, you can apply a framework to solving case studies. Practice it enough, and the assignment you face in the actual interview will be that much easier. It’s not that you’ll know exactly what they’re going to ask you: it’s that you’ll be well-versed in applying your strategy to any type of case study question.
On top of preparing for the technical interview, solving practice case studies will sharpen skills that will serve you well on the job.
Here’s how to solve any case study in four steps:
At Product Gym, in just 4 steps, we’ll show you how to not only get the job offer, but also walk into your new role with confidence. This method has been proven to work for both aspiring first-time Product Managers and experienced Product Managers. As long as there’s a Product Manager role you’re eyeing (whether at assistant level, at senior level or as a Product Head), our resources will make your case study experience easier than it has ever been.
Apply These Product Manager Interview Tips to Your Job Hunt
With hard work and a solid strategy, you can gamify the Product Manager interview process and come out on top. We’ve seen these Product Manager interview tips make all the difference for countless members going through the Product Gym program. If you’re still unsure or want some support tackling your Product Manager job hunt, we’re here for you. Book a discovery call with our admissions team and find out how PG can help you land the Product Manager job of your dreams.
Originally published at https://productgym.io on June 6, 2022.